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HomeWorldCanada’s Allegation Against India Punctuates Tension Over Separatists | International news

Canada’s Allegation Against India Punctuates Tension Over Separatists | International news

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The allegation was a bombshell: that India had been involved in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil in June.

Shortly after Canada’s prime minister made the accusation on Monday, an all-out diplomatic war broke out. Canada pressured its allies to join together to challenge India, with statements of concern issued in Washington and Canberra, Australia. India moved to expel a top Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat measure, with Indian officials lining up to air their grievances with Canada.

But behind the decline in relations to what officials and analysts called the lowest point in history, there were years of diplomatic tension. In the eyes of New Delhi, Western nations – especially Canada – have stood by while Sikh extremist groups, including the one led by the murdered Canadian citizen, have supported a secessionist cause that threatens the Indian state.

Indian officials have accused their counterparts in Canada, Britain, the United States and Australia of inaction as the diaspora mobilize for Khalistan, the independent nation that Sikh secessionists want to establish in the Punjab region, has vandalized Indian diplomatic missions and threatened Indian diplomats.

India’s response has been a reflection, in part, of domestic politics. The Indian government has long maintained that the Khalistan cause has little support in Punjab. However, ruling party officials painted the Sikh-dominated peasant movement of 2020 and 2021, the biggest challenge to Modi’s decade-long rule, with the same broad “secessionist” brush that they have applied to extremist Sikh elements in the foreign.

That has led many analysts to believe that Modi may be stoking Khalistan as a major threat as part of a tried-and-true political and electoral tactic in which he presents himself as the protector of India, particularly its Hindu majority.

The diplomatic clash began Monday when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in an urgent address to Parliament, said Canadian security agencies had credible evidence that Indian agents were linked to the shooting death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a separatist leader. Sikh in British Columbia. Canada has the largest Sikh population outside India and the Canadian government said it would take strong measures to protect its citizens and its sovereignty.

If the role of Indian agents is confirmed, it could mark a brazen new turn for India’s security agencies. While India’s spy agency, known as the Research and Analysis Wing, or RAW, has long been suspected of being involved in targeted killings in neighboring countries, analysts and former security officials said Nijjar’s killing would be the first such case. known of this type in a Western nation.

India strongly dismissed the allegation. In a statement, its Foreign Ministry rejected “any attempt to connect the government of India” to Nijjar’s death and accused Canada of harboring “extremists and terrorists” who “continue to threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the India”.

KC Singh, a former Indian ambassador, said the seriousness of the claim by Canada, a Group of 7 country, had been undermined because the Trudeau administration failed to reveal evidence linking the attack to the Indian government.

Singh said it was clear the issue had been escalating since the killing, as Sikh groups pointed fingers and held protests against Indian diplomats, increasing pressure on Canadian politicians.

“India is outraged by the long rope given to Sikhs in Canada seeking independence from Indian Punjab. Canada is concerned about a violation of its sovereignty and a threat to its citizens. The gap between the two sides has widened,” Singh said. “Domestic politics in both nations dictate obstinacy.”

Signs of that violation had begun to emerge when Trudeau embarked on a hiccup-filled trip to India last week for the Group of 20 summit meeting. First there was a cold meeting with Modi. Then there was Trudeau’s absence at a banquet attended by other world leaders, including President Biden. To make matters worse, a plane failure kept Trudeau stranded in his New Delhi hotel for two more days while he rejected an Indian offer of a replacement plane.

It was in New Delhi, Trudeau said Monday, where he presented the Canadian findings “in unequivocal terms” to Modi. On Tuesday, the Indian government reported that Modi had “completely rejected” the claims directed at Trudeau.

The Khalistan separatist movement, dating in earnest to before the partition of India at the end of British colonial rule in 1947, reached a bloody climax in the 1980s.

When a group of militants violently took over the Golden Temple, Sikhism’s holiest site, in 1984 to advance their Khalistani cause, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent commandos to clear them in a bloody operation that left hundreds dead. Two Sikh bodyguards, outraged by Mrs. Gandhi’s actions, assassinated the prime minister during her morning walk to his office.

Thousands of innocent Sikhs died in the widespread pogroms that followed, in which India’s ruling Congress party was seen as complicit. In 1985, Khalistani separatists were accused of detonating a bomb on an Air India flight between Toronto and London, killing more than 300 people.

Although the secessionist cause has had dwindling support in Punjab, it remains a rallying cry among Sikhs in Western countries, which Singh, the retired ambassador, described as “a fiction in the minds of certain radical elements of the diaspora”.

Indian officials said they considered inaction against the groups’ activities in those countries to be driven by local political calculations. The Sikh diaspora has become powerful agricultural lobbies in places like California and Australia.

Nijjar, the 45-year-old Sikh separatist leader, was wanted on terrorism charges in India. In 2018, the country’s top investigation agency filed a complaint against him accusing him of “conspiring and planning to carry out a major terrorist attack in India” and “obtaining funding to procure arms/ammunition and training Sikh youth to carry out carry out terrorist activities.” In India. “India had reportedly requested his extradition.

He had a particular focus, the agency said, on meetings of a right-wing nationalist organization known as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, which is the ideological source of Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Vineet Joshi, a senior party leader in Punjab, said Nijjar, who had moved to Canada in the 1990s, was little known in that state and that Khalistan was not a big problem. But he said Canadian leaders needed to understand the difference between freedom of expression and “talking about the disintegration of another nation.”

“They must understand that this is not the same India,” Joshi said. “It is much stronger under the leadership” of Modi.

Indian officials attributed the escalation of tensions with the Canadian government largely to the attitude of the Trudeau administration. They said that while British and American officials had expressed understanding of the threat of Khalistani extremism and promised action, officials in Canada’s ruling party were often sympathetic to Khalistani groups even as the groups became emboldened.

The groups have held referendums for an independent nation on Canadian soil. Over the summer, a Khalistani group in Canada carried a painting during a parade depicting the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi.

Trudeau’s national security adviser, Jody Thomas, recently named India, along with Russia and China, as sources of “foreign interference” in Canadian affairs. India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar responded. At a news conference in New Delhi in June, he relied on a local Hindi saying that roughly translates to: Thieves are accusing police of theft.



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